Commentary: DOT must stop subsidizing Macon airport

It’s time to put passenger air service out of its misery at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. It would be cruel and unusual punishment on the nation’s taxpayers to continue to subsidize flights at a cost of $509 per passenger, more than $300 more than the top limit the federal government allows.

It’s madness on one hand to demand that our federal government cut costs, yet expect it to continue throwing money at passenger service that, by the numbers, few people use. That’s no way to run a railroad, much less an airport.

We understand why the airport’s dance card is never filled. With all of the advantages of flying out of Macon to make connecting flights — checked bags shuttled onto the connecting flights without having to run through the security gauntlet; the ease of parking and not having to fight I-285 — but that’s not enough.

The present carrier has tried to take away the other objection of making the connection at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by offering more flights, 26 per week, but that hasn’t worked, either. On average the flights carry four passengers. It’s impossible to make such a low passenger load make sense. The price is more than competitive, $39 one way. (Groome Transportation charges $34 for its ground transportation service). Still, people find it more convenient to hop on Groome or drive their own vehicles than hop a flight on Georgia Skies.

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